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The German-Jew that Bandmann drew: Daniel E. Bandmann’s Shylock on the Australian colonial stage, 1869–1870
journal contributionposted on 14.06.2018, 00:00 by Nicole Anae
A particularly noteworthy tragedian enacting Shylock on the Australian colonial stage between 1869 and early 1870 was visiting German touring star Daniel Edward Bandmann (1840–1906). His Australian tour in its initial stages was framed within the discourse of legitimacy, based both on his success in mastering the English language and perhaps above all on his ability to withstand the test of critical English audiences. Yet, the reportage of his appearances as Shylock tracked a radical turn toward a dramaturgical reconceptualisation of the part. This paper contends two separate but interrelated points: that as a German-Jewish actor Bandmann's Shylock both evoked the dramaturgical techniques of the British theatre in this role and pushed the limits of English conventions essentially to rework the enactment of Shylock for a modern Victorian audience for specific dramaturgical ends. The examination draws extensively on extant Australian colonial press ephemera covering Bandmann's tour to re-read his enactment of the role as a revolution polarising the critical nineteenth-century debates about Shylock’s emotional aesthetic, and by extension, explores Bandmann's influence in reimagining the so-called “Jew that Shakespeare Drew” in The Merchant of Venice. In this way, the analysis reclaims Bandmann's dexterity in manipulating the potential of The Merchant of Venice to redirect audiences’ attention back to the conditions and representations of colonial race politics.